It's still not happening! - 21/09/2003
Being at St. James Park, reading and hearing the talk coming out of St. James Park in the days leading up to yesterday’s game, I’m convinced that everyone thought the Bolton game would be 3 points in the bag and the catalyst for the rest of the season – but Bolton didn’t read the script!
I also hear what Sir Bobby has to say about the media having a go at the club, and to some degree he’s got a point. On one hand he complains that all the doom and gloom wont help the players, the team, the club – very true. But he also has to accept that this season’s performances have been well below that expected. It’s up to him, the coaching staff, the players to set this right…but for me, there’s something not quite right about the club. Looking at the body language of players on Saturday – as I mentioned on the Tyne Tees show – you can see that confidence and spirit isn’t the best. Players such as Bellamy have lost that spark, the will to fight for everything that’s all so important. Newcastle are now second from bottom and although I still feel that a Champions League spot is there to be played for, they’ve given themselves a hell of a mountain to climb!
Other teams have sussed Newcastle’s game, they sit deep and counteract the pace of Bellamy, Dyer, and Robert. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to counteract this - Newcastle’s problem is that we’ve simply failed to find an answer to these tactics. Four home games and one goal to show – that’s a statistic that both frightens and worries me. Where’s the spark of creativity that a Beardsley would have brought to the side? It’s simply not there. Dyer can make runs, Solano can put in telling crosses, Robert can beat players and whip in balls – but it’s just not happening.
Last season proved that we have the ability, but confidence is the key, and only Nol Solano seems to have the confidence to play his natural game. He’s still trying the one touch stuff that others seem frightened of doing. Ironically he’s been substituted twice at St. James in the last two games when he’s looked possibly the best person to be open up defences! Take yesterday’s example, he’s taken off and Bellamy is switched to the right. Who’s more likely to put a cross on Al’s forehead, Solano or Bellamy? I’d take the Peruvian any time. No disrespect Bellamy, but for me his best position is playing off Shearer.
To be honest, I thought the payers were more up for the Bolton game than they had been two weeks ago. Robert looked interested – but as with all the players, it just didn’t quite come off for him. The fullbacks are increasing coming to play a more important part in Newcastle’s game. As Bolton dropped deep, there was more opportunity to build slowly and bring Griffin/Bernard into the game on the overlap. They too didn’t have the best of offensive game – although both did OK defensively.On a positive note I firmly believe that it’ll click soon, but although most were banking on having 6 points by now, will it come on Friday night at Highbury? Well, there won’t be a better place to get the season started - not that it’s going to be easy! There’s no place for panic, but the Darsley Park training ground should be an interesting place to be this week.
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